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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 29, 2002

29 July 2002
Egyptian Ambassador Visits Tatarstan
"The presidents of Tatarstan and Egypt laid a strong foundation for friendship and cooperation between [Egypt and Russia] and, in this way, we have contributed to good relations between Egypt and Russia," Egyptian Ambassador to Russia Reda Shehata said following a meeting with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev on 26 July, reported. Shehata said the role played by the Tatar president in this process is unmeasurable. Shehata also gave Shaimiev a message from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in which he said the Egyptian people will welcome the Tatar president on his next visit to Egypt as a dear guest.

Shaimiev said that a stable basis has been created for economic and humanitarian cooperation between Egypt and Tatarstan, adding that all the necessary prerequisites for strengthening and developing such ties are also already in place.

Shaimiev added that about 100 students from Tatarstan are currently studying at Cairo University under the sponsorship of the Egyptian government. GK

Eight Men Wounded In Attack On Police Officer
A brawl involving some 20 drunken men and a police officer in Tatarstan's Nurlat Raion on 26 July ended when a second police officer fired shots into the crowd, wounding eight of the men, reported the same day. Captain Mansur Safin had ordered the men to stop a scuffle that had broken out, but instead the men began beating him. His colleague, Lieutenant Pavel Romanov, who is head of the district Department of Criminal Investigation, fired several warning shots, but the attackers reportedly continued to beat Safin. Romanov then opened fire, wounding eight of the men in the legs and chest. Four of the injured have been hospitalized, two in stable condition and the other two in satisfactory condition. Safin was also hospitalized, suffering from a number of injuries.

The men involved in the brawl were mostly unemployed and ranged from 24 to 35 years of age, the agency reported, citing the Tatar Interior Ministry press service. Interior Minister Asgat Safarov said those involved were not members of any organized criminal groups and will be charged with "hooliganism" and "attempted murder of a police officer." The latter charge carries a sentence of 12 years to life in prison.

Commenting on the actions taken by Romanov, Safarov said he acted "competently" and that he will be recommended for governmental recognition. GK

Unified Russia To Hold General Council Session In Kazan
The General Council of the Unified Russia party plans to hold a session in Kazan on 1-2 August, Tatar-inform reported on 26 July. The Unified Russia leadership plans to meet with party members in the republic, as well as with State Council deputies and editors and journalists from local mass-media outlets. The council is to be met by President Shaimiev, who is one of the co-chairmen of the party. GK/IN

Interior Ministry Officers Return From Chechnya
A detachment of 45 troops from Tatarstan's Interior Ministry returned from Chechnya on 26 July following three months of service in the breakaway republic, reported the same day. First Deputy Interior Minister Renat Timerzyanov met with the officers upon their return, saying that they had performed their duties and had been given a positive evaluation by military leaders, as well as by local residents. Timerzyanov also pointed out that the detachment returned to Tatarstan without suffering any casualties.

Eight more Tatar policemen were sent to Chechnya the previous day for a year of service. GK

Water Supplies Cut In Kazan
The water supply in Kazan was completely shut off on 27-28 July to perform scheduled maintenance on the pumps at local water-intake facilities that had last been repaired some 30 years ago, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 29 July.

Emergency water supplies were organized for city residents, while this turned out to be unnecessary as many locals reportedly traveled to their country homes outside the city for the weekend.

The water supply was turned on again on the evening of 28 July. IN

President Recognizes Tatar Prime Minister
Russian President Vladimir Putin has recognized Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov with the Order of Friendship, the AK&M news agency reported on 26 July. According to the presidential decree of 22 July, the order was awarded for Minnikhanov's "great personal contribution" to the social and economic development of his region and for many years of good work. IN

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova and Iskender Nurmi

Bashinform Responds To 'Kommersant' Article About Death Of Opposition Journalist
Bashkortostan's state news agency, Bashinform, commented on 26 July on an article in "Kommersant" about the sudden death of the editor in chief of the opposition newspaper "Vechernii Neftekamsk," Firat Valeev, saying that the paper was using his death for political purposes (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 22 July 2002). The agency said that nobody in the republic had tried to keep the death of Valeev -- who died in a traffic accident in Udmurtia -- a secret. The agency added that law-enforcement bodies in Udmurtia are investigating the accident.

The Bashinform comment criticizes the statement by "Kommersant" that "Vechernii Neftekamsk" is the only opposition newspaper in Bashkortostan, saying that "Nash vybor" and "Otechestvo" are also opposition papers and that they have a much larger circulation than "Vechernii Neftekamsk."

Responding to reports that Valeev had often been threatened because of his publications, Bashinform wrote that, "It is difficult to find any editor who hasn't been threatened by some schizophrenic."

The comment also added that "Kommersant" was most likely carrying out an order to print an anti-Bashkortostan article. GK

Investigation Into Mid-Air Collision Continues
Russian investigators have finished transcribing the recordings of conversations between air-traffic controllers and the pilots of a Bashkir Airlines Tu-154 passenger jet and a DHL Boeing 757 cargo jet that crashed over southern Germany on 1 July, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK) Rudolf Teimurazov told ITAR-TASS on 26 July. Teimurazov said that at the request of the German commission investigating the crash, MAK officials will now try to determine the psychological state of the pilots and air-traffic controllers prior to the collision. Teimurazov also added that U.S. officials will assist in this aspect of the investigation. GK/IN

Second Tatar School To Open In Ufa
A second Tatar secondary school is planned to open in Ufa's Sipailovo residential area, Bashinform reported on 26 July. The school, which will have a capacity of 8,000 students, will replace secondary school No. 84 in the Bashkir capital. GK

LDPR Leader Visits Ufa
The leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Vladimir Zhirinovskii, visited Ufa on 26 July, Bashinform reported the same day. During his 2 1/2-hour visit, the Russian State Duma deputy chairman spoke on a number of topics, including efforts by Russian President Vladimir Putin to strengthen the vertical power structure in the country, which he said he backed.

When asked by Bashinform whether he still held the view that Bashkortostan is one of the most corrupt regions in Russia, as he once said, Zhirinovskii replied: "Corruption exists throughout the country and it needs to be fought everywhere. The more corruption there is, the richer a region tends to be. This is a good indicator: Corruption is where the wealth is. We have to remove the corruption and leave the wealth. "

While speaking on conditions in the republic, Zhirinovskii pointed out that Baskortostan "possesses oil and produces its own buses," adding that "[the people in] many regions live much worse than you do." GK/IN

Official Says Tatar Congress To Get Financing...
The Bashkir government announced that financing for the second congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars will be provided at the expense of the 2002 budgets of the republic's relevant ministries, boards, and organizations, Bashinform reported on 26 July. Deputy Culture and Nationalities Policy Minister Tamara Pushkareva told reporters that the first stage of the congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars will be provided with enough money. She added that the Executive Committee of the World Bashkir Congress had also offered its assistance in preparing for, and holding, the event. The deputy minister also appealed to legal entities and individuals to make donations to help finance the congress.

Pushkareva added during the press conference that 58 percent of children in Bashkortostan have an opportunity to attend schools taught in their native language, whereas this figure was 39 percent in 1990-1991. GK/IN

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova and Iskender Nurmi